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Gb Power Seeks ‘Unique’ Energy Storage Solution

Grand Bahama Power Company is planning to launch a tender for energy storage technology that is “maybe unique to the world”, in a move that could reduce operating time for at least two generation units.

Paul Miller, the monopoly utility provider’s managing director, told Tribune Business that the storage proposal was tied to its solar power plans, with both designed to lower energy and fuel costs for consumers.

Unveiling Grand Bahama Power’s renewable energy strategy, which is designed to at least keep pace with the Government’s National Energy Policy goals, Mr Miller revealed that it was also assessing two potential sites for the development of utility-scale solar farms.

He disclosed that to meet the Government’s goal of producing 30 per cent of the Bahamas’ energy needs from renewable sources by 2030, Grand Bahama Power would have to generate between 20-25 Mega Watts (MW) of its supply from non-fossil fuels by then.

Given its mandate to seek three-year tariff rate approvals from the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) as regulator, Mr Miller said that with five filings due between now and 2030, the Grand Bahama Power Company needed to increase its renewable production by 5MW each time.

“We’re going through completing an analysis on solar from a utility scale perspective,” Mr Miller told Tribune Business. “That can take place on two different sites, one being 2MW, the other 4MW.”

He explained, though, that the timing of peak electricity demand created a problem for Grand Bahama Power Company when it came to maximising solar efficiency, as this typically occurred between 8pm  –  9.30pm at night.

“What that means is at night, when we need energy the most, the sun is not shining and we are not deriving the benefits from solar at night,” Mr Miller explained.

This was why Grand Bahama Power Company was turning its focus to procuring technology that could store solar energy produced during the day for use during night-time peak demand.

“It’s leading edge storage technology,” Mr Miller told Tribune Business. “We’re looking at going out for a Request for Proposal (RFP) on storage technology.

“It’s unique to the Bahamas, and maybe to the world, what we’re looking to do with storage. It’s not battery-type storage.”

He added: “We have some very unique clients with the Container Port and Bahama Rock. They draw large amounts of power in a very short period of time.

“That’s why storage and solar go hand in hand. I’m so hopeful the economics work with this, because if they do customers will see the benefit of generators not running as often as they do. It can take one-two generators off line, and there are big, positive benefits from that.”

Mr Miller said Grand Bahama Power Company’s current 2015-2018 tariff proposal, which is before the GBPA, would take the utility up to 4-6 MW of renewable energy.

He added that the second part of its solar strategy was the Renewable Energy Rider Rate, designed to “open up the market” so that residential and consumer customers could sell excess energy back to Grand Bahama Power Company – just like the Government’s now-suspended Renewable Energy Self-Generation programme.

Mr Miller said the programme was now awaiting regulatory approval, and Grand Bahama Power Company anticipated “finalising the terms of the rate, and what we’d pay customers for that energy” within the next six-nine months.

The energy utility is also just weeks away from using biofuel in its company vehicles, and aims to start blending this with its heavy fuel oil (HFO) for use in its generation plants come January/February 2016.

Mr Miller said Grand Bahama Power was “in the commissioning and testing” phase with biofuel in its vehicles, and working with a local Bahamian start-up – which he declined to name – that will produce it.

He conceded, though, that the benefits from using biofuel for electricity generation were more environmental, as “significant volumes” were required before there was any cost reduction impact.

Mr Miller also revealed that Grand Bahama Power wants to replace 10,000 street lights with Light Emitting Diodes (LED) lighting before the end of 2016.

“The sooner we get that done, the sooner we realise fuel savings, and that has a ripple effect. It means we run our diesel engines less,” he told Tribune Business. “That’s a big plus.”

Mr Miller said LED lights consumed 60-70 per cent less energy than normal street lights, and enjoyed “a very small failure rate” of less than 1 per cent.

“The maintenance is almost eliminated; the light is designed to last 12-20 years,” he added, compared to the four-five year lifespan enjoyed by regular lights.


Category/ies:Bahamas News, News, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy.
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